Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes the recently-concluded Test series between South Africa and India showed ample emotion which has been missing from the Ashes. He added that there was some exquisite batting on display in the Test series between South Africa and India despite the conditions being overwhelmingly in favour of the bowling side.
Some nine hours away South Africa surprisingly defeated India in an old-fashioned dogfight that included some enthralling cricket. It also involved ample emotion of the sort that has notably been missing from an Ashes contest that has been surprisingly uncontroversial so far,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.
South Africa came back from 1-0 down to win the three-match series 2-1 at Cape Town on Friday. Talking further about the batting in particular during the series, Chappell remarked, “The South Africa series featured bowling domination on pitches that were probably too much in favour of the fielding side, but there was also some exquisite batting.”
“Because defiant batting wasn’t prevalent, gutsy innings by Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli stood out. The exhilarating shot-making extravaganzas of Rishabh Pant and Keegan Petersen proved that aggressive batting with scoring in mind could be achieved even on testing surfaces.”
Chappell went on to praise Petersen’s efforts in the series and wondered where he was all this while. In the Cape Town Test, Petersen was superb in making 72 in the first innings and followed it up with a sublime 82 in the second innings to set the base for a successful chase of 212 for South Africa. He was also adjudged ‘Player of the Series’ for being the highest run-scorer in the series, amassing 276 runs in six innings at an average of 46.
“In particular, Petersen’s sudden rise to fame has been a revelation and raises the question of where he has been all this while. This example exposes one of the mysteries of Test cricket: do some selectors know what they should be looking for? Petersen is in his prime, at 28, but he has only played five Tests.”
“Despite lacking experience he has all the requirements of a Test No. 3, including a wide range of shots that he is prepared to play, plus a solid defence. So why is he only playing now? Sometimes players deserve an opportunity on potential and temperament alone and this is where good selection stands out.”
The 78-year-old signed off by saying good selections should be emphasised more in cricket than coaching. “There is a time for determination and discipline. However, Test cricket has for a long time been included in the entertainment bracket and a recognition of this has to be part of the selection process.”
“A good Test selector is capable of including both considerations in his choices and that is why they are highly regarded. When it comes to financial rewards, cricket should start valuing selection more highly than coaching; it would make a pleasant and worthwhile change.”